Feng Zhenghu’s Airport Diary: Gifts from Chicago

After he was denied re-entry to China eight times, lived in Tokyo’s for 92 days in 2009-2010. Now Feng is telling the story of his airport odyssey on his blog, and CDT is translating his account.

This is part 28. Read previous installments here.

November 30, 2009

Today is my 27th day camped outside the gate to .

My breakfast was a small cup of bean thread noodles and a few onion crackers. I made the noodles with water I boiled myself. This was the first time I used the electric kettle that Miss Chan from Hong Kong brought me. It’s quite convenient. I had boiling water after just three minutes. From now on I can eat hot noodles. Those steaming hot noodles were delicious, but I ate them too quickly, all at once, and I burned a layer of skin off the roof of my mouth. I’ve been drinking cold water and eating cold food for over 20 days, and so the inside of my mouth has become tender. When I eat hot foods now, I really have to take my time. As the old Chinese saying goes, “He is who impatient won’t get to eat hot tofu.” This is true of eating, and really of anything else you’re doing.

Today is a Monday, a work day. In the morning I was busy taking interviews from reporters in the interview designated area. At 10 a.m., I was interviewed by a reporter from Sankei Shimbun who spoke Chinese. At 10:45 I started an interview with Kyodo News. There were three people in that group: an interviewer, a photographer, and a translator. I interviewed with them until noon, when I finally returned to my encampment.

At 12:05 p.m., I got a phone call from a Chinese student studying abroad in Chicago. He told me that someone would arrive here this afternoon and bring me some things. At 12:10, I got a call from Mr. Yang in Guangxi, a well-known rights defense lawyer. He offered me his encouragement, saying, “People in China know about your plight. Everyone hopes you can hang in there. You are fighting for the human rights of all Chinese people. Our support for you is unwavering.”

I quickly ate a few Japanese nutritional berry crackers and a cup of tap water. That was it for lunch.

At 1:51, I gave a telephone interview to a reporter from a newspaper in Frankfurt, Germany. She first called this morning, when I was being interviewed by Kyodo News, so we planned to talk in the afternoon. This reporter spoke fluent Chinese. She interviewed me for 15 minutes. I introduced to her my Twitter account and my website hxwq.org, telling her she could find details there in order to save interview time.

Around 3:20 p.m., I was writing on my computer when two Hong Kong compatriots came to visit me. They introduced themselves. One was a Mr. Zhen Yangang, convener of the Hong Kong Association for the Promotion of Democracy in China. The other was a Mr. Yang Xiaoyan. They brought two bags of oranges and and a package of chocolate. They told me that they had brought a big yellow sheet of paper with “fifth flight” written on it. [Activists in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the U.S. organized six flights to visit Feng.] I told them, “Photography is not allowed here. There’s a notice on the pillars stating that you can’t take photos. We can’t get too crazy in here. I should respect some of Japan’s rules. Actually, the fact that we just took a photo together already defied the rules.” They respected me, and understood what I was trying to say. They did not unfurl their banner, but took it back with them. I’m extraordinarily thankful that they came here just to visit me. I asked them to give my thanks to the people of Hong Kong.

It is my hope that those who come visit me in the future will not bring banners or other promotional papers with them. This is not an open-air public place. And besides, this just isn’t my honest style of doing things. Everyone is here to see an everyday compatriot–a Chinese person fighting bitterly for his right of return. And those who come here are all just everyday Chinese people, here to offer their care and love. There’s no need to be shouting any slogans. History will remember this ordeal. Actually, my presence here is entirely within the laws and regulations of Japan. I don’t have any large banners, and I’m not actively spreading any messages. I’m just sitting quietly in my temporary residence with a few signs of regulation size. No publicizing, just perseverance. Silence beats sound.

As I was meeting with my friends from Hong Kong, I was visited by a Japanese friend of mine who works for a well-known financial group. He came through my encampment on his way back to Japan from Mongolia. He is an expert on Chinese issues, and has been a good friend of mine for over 20 years. In the mid-80s, when I was serving as the director of Shanghai Business Development Association and the China Business Development Institute, he and a few other Japanese friends came to China to conduct scholarly exchanges and joint research. We were all young back then. Now, they’re all China experts. Some are still professors at Tokyo University. Yesterday, before he returned to Japan, he called and asked if I needed anything. I told him that I have everything I need, but I very much welcome a visit from an old friend here. He brought me a few packages of Mongolian mutton.

At 4:50 p.m., a middle-aged American walked over to me with a roll of plastic foam and a backpack. Without explanation, I knew that this was from the Chinese student in Chicago. I thanked him. “Good luck,” he told me in English. After giving me his delivery he went through Japanese customs. Inside the backpack was a large bottle of pork floss, six cans of Spam, two pairs of plush slippers, and a bag of assorted medicines. There was also an American greeting card. Inside was written, “Mr. Feng: We support you! A Chinese @chicago 2009.11.26.”

To this day, I do not know this student’s name. He has called multiple times to check on me and offer his support. He believes that my actions and my spirit have moved the international students, and he is compelled to do something for me. Here, I would like to thank this international student. Having the support and concern of all these everyday people, I believe that I have done something right.

Thank you, everyone, for your help. My food reserves are enough to last me a month. As of right now, my “warehouse” (the underside of a bench) cannot hold any more food. I ask my friends to pass this along: for the next month, there is no need to send me any more food. I welcome everyone to come by and visit me as they are coming through. We can have a nice chat over a few cups of water.

Translation by Little Bluegill.